Many of us are beginning the new year by evaluating our lives and identifying changes we want to make in the coming year. There’s a certain humanness in deciding that our clean slate starts at this relatively random point in time, but that doesn’t exclude nature from being included in our fresh start. I want to use this month’s Nature Net News to dig into ways we as individuals can incorporate more climate hope and solutions into our lives.

Individual Resolutions

Many articles on climate solutions focus on the individual things people can do to reduce their carbon footprints. While that’s all well and good, the fact of the matter is that individual change alone won’t solve the climate crisis. Additionally, many recommendations for climate action are costly–not everyone has the money to buy an electric vehicle or the resources to invest in energy efficient home technology.

If composting in your garden, replacing inefficient appliances, and taking public transit to work help with your climate anxiety, by all means, pursue that. My daily bike ride to work not only helps alleviate my feelings of doom and gloom about global climate change, it also gives my brain and body space to feel human and grounded. All these individual changes are excellent–please do them for yourself and your community! But today, this newsletter will focus on systematic solutions that you can plug into in your community. 

The Situation

Following the hottest year recorded by humans, the feelings of climate anxiety can seem overwhelming. Despite the Midwest being a relative climate haven, Wisconsin is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Increased precipitation has caused damaging floods in southern Wisconsin, warming winters threaten the tourism economy in northern Wisconsin, and high water years on the Mississippi are negatively impacting wildlife corridors and river transportation. In all that soup of doom, things can feel bleak.

But, all is not lost.

Taking Action

Taking action–particularly collective action–is one of the strongest therapies for climate anxiety. Starting locally is one of the most accessible ways to impact the climate crisis. In Wisconsin, many local and state organizations are already working towards a resilient and adaptable climate future. 


The climate crisis can often feel irreversible. In many ways, this is the case, but centering restoration work in our community climate actions means we give control back to the natural systems that govern life on this planet. The act of restoration also feels more constructive than other forms of climate action. We engage in building something, instead of trying to undo. By releasing the human ego, we make room for the ecological systems that, for so long, regulated the Earth’s climate and ecology, to do what they were designed to do.

Many Nature Net member organizations engage in ecosystem restoration work days that involve physically engaging in climate action work alongside others who share your goals. If there aren’t events or organizations in your area already doing restoration work, start your own. Building community through restoration and climate work helps both the climate and individuals in your community struggling in the face of an immediate and global climate crisis.

Build Resilience

With the impacts of climate change already upon us, having a future oriented mindset in policy and development is critical. Building resilience in our communities means protecting people–particularly those most vulnerable–from the imminent impacts of climate change. These actions fall into two buckets: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigating climate change is the immediate and urgent reduction of greenhouse gas production. Adaptation is ensuring that the impacts we are already experiencing do not threaten the wellbeing of our communities now and in the future.

Clean Wisconsin is one example of an organization working to tackle both the impacts of climate change and pollution through advocacy, science, and legal action. They are consistently looking for volunteers to engage in resiliency work throughout the state. This work can look like building green infrastructure, tabling at local events, or simply signing up to be part of their Action Network. 

You Matter

However you choose to engage in climate action, doing it with a community will always yield a stronger impact both on the climate and on your wellbeing. No problem this large will ever be solved by one person. One of the scariest parts of the climate crisis is feeling insignificantly small in such a vast web of interconnected problems. But we are in that web, and as such, are not absolved from responsibility. On one hand, the interconnectedness of the climate crisis can feel like it’s impossible to solve–too many interests too deeply entrenched; but on the other hand, interconnectedness means that solving one problem can impact many others and that even the insignificant can become significant.

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In Case You Missed It…

News from Nature Net Members​​

Leopold Week Announced Loaner Skis Available Winter Enrichment Lectures
Join the Aldo Leopold Foundation for Leopold Week March 1-8! Explore what this year’s theme, “natural, wild, and free”,  means in our modern world and discover how you can more deeply connect to the land community. Register here for all sessions! The winter months are long, but picking up a new hobby can help them fly by! Loaner XC skis are now available at Madison Park’s Door Creek Park and Odana Hills XC ski trails. The skis are free to use with the purchase of a daily or annual ski permit. Instructions for the loaner program are posted on-site. Learn more about XC skiing in Madison’s parks here! Looking to expand your ecological knowledge this winter? Register for the Arboretum’s Winter Enrichment Lecture Series! Learn more about amphibian conservation, invasive forest insects, and much more! Each lecture is $10. In February, talks will be virtual, while in March they’ll take place at the Visitor Center. Click here to register or learn more!

More from Nature Net…

For Families: For Educators: Upcoming Events:
Plan ahead to get your child outside this summer! We know it can be challenging to keep track of camp registration deadlines, so we’ve created a tool to help. Visit our timeline to learn more about the summer camps offered by Nature Net members.  Looking for a change this year? Check out our list of 25 things to do this winter! With many fun winter offerings in the Madison area, you can reimagine 2024 with new ideas for curriculum, field trips, and more! Visit our calendar to see exciting events happening at Nature Net sites near you! Visit the MMSD Planetarium for a special Valentine’s Day show, join Bethel Horizons for Breakfast with the Birds, or stock up on new plants at Olbrich Gardens’ annual Perennial Plant Sale!

Nature Net News: Funding & Content Creation